Efficiency is a trend in every industry. The translation industry is not an exception. Today the pressure to be fast and productive is harder than ever. The competition is fierce due to the fact that the translation industry isn’t local in nature anymore. Everyone can offer translation services to the whole world via Internet. And one shouldn’t underestimate the effect of the technological development either; billions of words are translated automatically every year.
Technology has both made free machine translation available for the ordinary people and brought less professional translation service providers to the markets. It is difficult to compete against so many types of players, but the role of the buyer isn’t any easier either. The temptation to choose the cheapest solution isn’t negligible. So it’s no wonder that more efficient working methods are desperately needed to be able to survive in the industry.
Traditionally, a professional translator has translated any text by hand from scratch. Although this method is totally depended on the capabilities of a man, the translation quality is often excellent. Unfortunately, like mentioned earlier, today there are also international translation service providers who claim to be professionals without any relevant education or experience. The sad truth is that the quality is not the top priority for every translation service.
Traditional translating is a good but relatively slow method. The amount of manual work is slowing down the workflow. Like the image below shows, manual translating (or option A in the image) contains manual work remarkably more than the other options. Machine translation was invented to automate the process. However, raw machine translation is never flawless. When the goal is to produce an excellent translation, machine translation doesn’t remove the need for manual work (see the option B in the image).
The problem with raw, unprocessed machine translation is that it is unpredictable. If a long piece of text is translated automatically, some sentences are often translated quite well, while some other sentences are a bit more mediocre and the rest is very low in quality. A plain machine translator will always translate every word and every sentence. The manual process to read, evaluate and post-edit all the automatically translated sentences one by one can be surprisingly laborious. To make it even worse, in most cases post-editing very low quality machine translations can take more time than translating the sentence by hand.
The modern workflow combines both translating and post-editing. Qualified machine translation contains only the good quality automatic translations that are worth of post-editing. The other sentences that have no good enough translations available is left to be translated by hand. This semi-automated translation method takes the best parts of the machine and human translation. The machine brings efficiency without compromising the quality, and the human brings the expertise without slowing down the process (see option C in the image).
The quality is independent from the working method. All three options can reach the best quality. However, the adoption of the modern workflow requires an attitude update: Qualified machine translation is a tool for professional translators. It’s not a rival or a competitor. It speeds up the process but the best translation quality will always need the touch of a skilled professional translator.
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